During the past 25 years, cancer plans have become increasingly popular. I applied for my first one about 21 years ago, right after I had my daughter. I was a single parent and wanted to be financially responsible. Since I had a new addition in my life, I also took out a new universal life insurance policy
Being young and naive myself, after a couple years I dropped the cancer plan thinking the money could be better spent on other needs for my little family. I did not take into consideration that my Grandmother, whom I'd never met, because she had died before I was born was a cancer victim. She died from colon cancer after a long fight and surgery to remove most of her colon which left her with a stoma and an ostomy bag to take care of for the remainder of her life.
Around the same time that I dropped my cancer plan, my UNCLE was diagnosed with BREAST CANCER and had a mastectomy. During this time his wife was also diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double radical mastectomy.
Several years later another aunt came down with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. She is now a big advocate for breast cancer cures and treatment and she spends a lot of time doing volunteer work at her local cancer treatment facility.
I am happy to say that both my aunt and my uncle have remained cancer free after their first bout with the disease, but unfortunately they do spend time taking care of my uncle's wife who has not been so lucky. Her breast cancer has metastasized and turned into a stage 4 lung cancer, which is inoperable.
I also had another aunt by marriage, one that I looked up to so very much that I went into nursing because she WAS a nurse and an inspiration to me. I watched her go through the pain of chemotherapy and radiation. I saw my aunt, who was usually an outgoing and vibrant person, lying in that hospital bed covered with burns from the radiation and weak from the chemotherapy fighting for her life. Her cancer, which started out as lung cancer had metastasized into her liver and eventually took her from us.
Seeing all of this cancer in my family, some blood relatives and some not, I started to think about cancer and not only the devastating EFFECTS of cancer treatment on the patient, but also the FINANCIAL BURDENS that were created for family members. I learned this through personal family experience and later on as a nurse, seeing the effects and pressure the disease was putting on the families of the patients in my care.
While still in nursing school:
As a student nurse, my first patient was a cancer patient. When my instructor assigned her to me I was told that she was dying of cancer. I was scared, really scared. I was not sure if I was scared of her dying or scared of the cancer! I was terrified when I walked into her room, but there she was, aside from being a little frail she did not even look sick. She had colon cancer, the same cancer that killed my grandmother. She was so nice and funny and pleasant. I worked with her week after week in my clinical training and came to really care about her and her husband. When her husband would leave the room, she would tell me that all she really wanted was to go home, but she did not want to burden her husband with her care.
When I told my instructor this, she told me to find out about hospice care. At that time I had never heard of hospice care and so I had a lot of learning to do. I did all the research and the following week presented my findings to her husband and told him that I would arrange for a hospice nurse to come talk to them. Two days later when I came back to the hospital, she was gone – not deceased – but had gone home to live out the rest of her life, where she wanted to be. I never saw her again. This was a bitter-sweet feeling that I will never forget. I had been with this patient through surgery, through chemo, and we spent many hours just talking.
Getting to know her was one of the reasons that I chose to go into long-term care as a nurse. I did not want to see patients for 10 minutes and then they leave until the next sniffle brought them back to the doctor's office, and I did not want to see them in hospitals where they were only there for a couple of days and then sent home.
As a nurse working in a long-term care facility, many of my patients had gone through cancer treatment and many still were in treatment. Many of them were hospice patients who were just being kept comfortable in their last few days.
This was a very hard job, both physically and mentally. There were days when I would leave work and cry in my car all the way home, then try to be a good wife and mother and act as if nothing were wrong. Many nurses go through that and it does take a toll on family life. Remember that! – And thank a nurse next time you meet one.
Leaving nursing for another career:
Several years later, I left nursing in pursuit of another way to not only make a living, but to help others. After all, helping people is the main reason I became a nurse. After a couple of years, and a couple jobs later, I found what I was looking for. I got a job that the public perceives as one step above a used car salesman. Yep! … I became an insurance agent!
I went to work with an internationally recognized supplemental insurance company (Aflac) and started selling mainly cancer plans. (I even sold one to myself!) I continued reading and researching everything I could find about cancer and then one day my mom called me. She needed me to take her to see an oncologist. She had a bad pap and was recommended to see a specialist. I was REALLY scared now! This is not an aunt or uncle, THIS IS MY MOTHER!
At the appointment, the doctor ran some tests and then we had to come back the following week for the results. That was a VERY long week. The waiting and wondering and not knowing was about to drive me crazy. Finally, the day came for the results. My mother was cleared of cancer, but the oncologist sat me down and told me to pass this along also to my sister. She told me that having cancer in your family can be genetic, but having a male in your family with breast cancer makes the risk even greater. She told me to have my cancer testing done yearly and to make sure my sister does also. She also told me something that I always tell my clients when I am talking about the cancer plans that I offer. "Testing, early detection and treatment can save your life."
Just because you do not have a family history of cancer, does not make you immune to the disease. After all SOMEONE has to be FIRST and that someone could be you or a loved one. It is not just genetics that is a determining factor in cancer. At least once a week you hear of something new that causes cancer.
Now that I have related why you NEED a cancer plan, let me tell you how to choose the right plan!
Since not everyone has the same needs, there are different plans available. Here are a few basic questions you should ask when shopping for a cancer plan.
- Where is the insurance company ranked on the National Underwriters list?
- Is the company ranked "A" or higher with AM Best?
- What kind of rate increases have they had in the past?
- Do I like the representative of the company?
Why are these questions important?
National Underwriters rank companies by their assets, amount of paid premiums and amount of claims paid. This is important because a company who is paying out more than they are taking in may not be around in your time of need or they may be forced to increase rates to stay solvent. The financial security of a company you are going to be doing business with is very important!
AM Best is another objective look at the insurance company's financial strength. You should always look to make sure they are at least an "A" or an "A +" or higher rated company with AM Best. They set the "benchmark" in the international market.
Many companies have increased the rate of their cancer plans over the years. (I found out just how important this was when my mother asked my aunt "Do you still have your cancer plan with …." And she said NO because they had raised the rate too much.) Make sure that the company you choose has rate stability and does not continually raise rates. Most companies have the right to raise rates by class, but that does not single you out as an individual to increase rates and some companies have NEVER raised the rates on their current policyholders.
It is also important to like the representative of the company you do business with, since that may be the person you speak with to make any changes to your plan or at the time of a claim. This may be someone with whom you will need to share personal information, so trust is important.
When you are searching for a cancer plan, I hope you remember the tips I have given you. You can learn more about cancer at our website, then click on the cancer page.
Also, to help fund <br> free Mammograms, please visit The Breast Cancer Site
And click on the Fund Free Mammograms Button. You can also sign up for email reminders on that site. Their sponsors donate everyday that you click.